Gauging quality of a charter school

Howard County school board member Joshua Kaufman wants to be convinced that the proposed Columbia Public Charter School will offer an "education quality [that] will be as good or better than the ones offered in other schools in Howard County" (in "Parents pursue Columbia charter school," April 20).

What Mr. Kaufman fails to say in the article is what yardstick he intends to use to measure the educational quality of the proposed charter school.

If Mr. Kaufman and the rest of the school board evaluate the "education quality" of the proposed charter school using the same measures they use for the rest of the school system, they will undoubtedly refuse to accept the charter.

They would be wrong to do so.

Even Mr. Kaufman must agree that the public school system does not and cannot meet the needs of 100 percent of the children in our county. Nor do we expect it to.

There will always be a few children for whom the public school system is inadequate in some way.

The proposed charter school seeks to reduce that number by 90. The children of some of the founders are those for whom the school system has failed - failed to the degree that their parents preferred to homeschool instead of subjecting their children to a school that was utterly ill-matched for their children's needs.

What yardstick does Mr. Kaufman use to measure the educational quality of a school system that drives a student and parent out of the system entirely?

The charter school will be a unique addition to the county school system. It addresses the needs of a unique subset of our population. It must be evaluated on its terms, not on the terms used for the other schools in the county. To do otherwise is to deny 90 students their right to an adequate public education.

Ray Lischner

Ellicott City

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